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Hospital CEOs say they're in 'better shape' than 2020 as beds continue to fill

“They will get through this," said FHA CEO Mary Mayhew said.
Posted at 8:42 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 23:25:57-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s COVID hospitalizations hit another at a record high, Wednesday. The latest Health & Human Services data shows 12,408 patients are taking up nearly a quarter (22.56%) of in-patient beds.

Until recently, the record was 10,179, set July 23, 2020. Florida eclipsed that total over the weekend and has continued to do so each day since. That's according to the Florida Hospitalization Association in data obtained by the CDC.

Florida’s governor, Wednesday, continued to downplay the significance of the growing hospitalizations. He hosted a roundtable with five hospital CEOs who said the Delta surge is under control despite the busy healthcare system.

“Overall, we’re seeing similar numbers," said Carlos Migoya, Jackson Health System CEO. "But, I think that from a standpoint compared to last summer, we’re in a lot better shape.”

The biggest takeaways— CEOs said they were more prepared than last year. New COVID patients were mostly unvaccinated and younger. Recovery was quicker. Mortality rates were down. The health leaders also said monoclonal treatments were available and working.

“Anecdotally, almost 100% of our patients have told us that 24 to 48 hours later they feel much better and symptoms are starting to subside," said John Couris, Tampa General CEO.

The roundtable followed several warnings from the Florida Hospital Association. Its latest survey, published Tuesday, showed 60% of hospitals expected critical staff shortages in 7 days. About 23% planned to expand patient care into non-care areas.

“There are some hospitals that are having to use their auditoriums or cafeterias to meet current patient demand,” said FHA President Mary Mayhew.

Mayhew said the COVID surge is coming on top of an already busy time and a national shortage of health workers. Though COVID patients are often the minority of admissions, the added work threatened to become too much.

“They will get through this," Mayhew said. "But it is, obviously, putting some strain on the systems.”

Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration, which manages the state's Medicaid program, said it was doing what it could to help. Officials were speeding up background checks for new hospital hires and offering continued flexibility on capacity limitations.

Critics, however, think more could be done to help the situation. They continued to call for DeSantis to issue a new COVID emergency order.

Administration officialshave said the governor has no plans to do so.